The hype-train no longer knows how to stop. From Guardiola’s model pupil, Kimmich developed into an irreplaceable right-back under Joachim Löw and on Säbener Strasse. With the Bavarians, the train stalled for a moment when Ancelotti could not find a place for the talent. But no one was deterred by this either.
After Philipp Lahm ended his career, panic broke out around the club – but not at FC Bayern itself. You had Kimmich. There were no great doubts internally, but the slight concern was justified that he could not plug the big hole left by the 2014 World Champion captain.
But the hype train shifted into the next gear. Ancelotti, who now had no choice but to use Joshua Kimmich regularly, was taught a lesson. Even under his successor Heynckes, the former midfielder showed a consistency week after week in defense that is simply impressive for his age.
In this respect, Kimmich reminded us of his predecessor, who is rarely remembered in Munich. That is probably the highest praise you can give the 23-year-old. Lahm is missing in Munich, no question. But above all, he is missing as a personality. From a sporting perspective, it would be presumptuous to claim that FC Bayern would have been more successful with Philipp Lahm this season.
It is only due to Kimmich’s quality that one of the five greatest legends in the club’s history was not missed as a player except in a few situations this season. This is pure madness.
But it would also be presumptuous to lift Kimmich to the lofty heights of Philipp Lahm. The comparisons that automatically accompany them are often unfair and not proportionate. Here and there the defender is accused of not being as stable on the defensive as the former captain.
That is, of course, partly true, but it is grumbling at a very high level. First, one must not make the mistake of comparing the late Lahm with the early Kimmich. In the early stages of his career, Lahm was also seeking to bring balance into his game. For many people this is hardly remembered, as his career is often described as almost perfect.
In reality, however, the future world champion had to make mistakes early in his career at FC Bayern and Stuttgart in order to learn from them. As with Lahm, however, Kimmich’s errors have been limited to nuances.
For example, if you’re looking to bring up Marcelo’s cross in the Champions League, then you’re looking for unattainable perfection from Kimmich. The player who can defend this situation has yet to be born.
In the past Bundesliga season Kimmich won 59% of his duels – David Alaba won almost half of his duels, Rafinha 56% and even Mats Hummels was only slightly better than his teammate on the outside with 63%. In the Champions League Kimmich was pushed to the limit a bit more often, but even there he is only 6% behind Marcelo (47 to 53).
Another element that is often ignored is Kimmich’s offensive game. Meaning he must make himself available to the team. Not all counter-situations, which originate from his side, should be automatically regarded as his mistake.
Nevertheless, there is room for improving his defending in the back – everything else for a 23-year-old is already very frightening. His future coaches will have to start at this point, but Kimmich himself has recently proved that he is becoming more and more stable. He is learning very quickly from the mistakes he has made.
Against the ball, he has learned extremely quickly in just a few months, old behavior patterns – such as shifting too slowly when changing sides – have diminished.
He finds an ever better balance between offensive and defensive play. If you want to draw a comparison with Philipp Lahm, it is that Kimmich is currently further than the world champion at his age. Especially in attack, he has unbelievable qualities to offer. He scored six goals and had 17 assists in 3796 minutes in all three competitions – which means he was involved in a goal every 165 minutes.
This added value is already indispensable for FC Bayern. Kimmich strokes the balls into the opposing area so that his teammates only have to run onto the cross to finish. His position and passing play is scarcely inferior to that of Philipp Lahm.
Kimmich is consistently a safe anchor for the midfielders, overlapping and pushing his opponent to perfection, and ensuring that his team’s game is wide at the right moments. A pass rate of less than 90% is very rare for the international.
At the same time, he also takes risks. He solves pressing situations with clever passing and body deception. Kimmich is not affected by pressing attacks either. Instead of putting his goalkeeper under pressure with a return pass, the 23-year-old often finds gaps in the opponent’s front pressing line. Anyone who takes a closer look will be amazed.
Kimmich scans the field every second, always knows how opponents and teammates are positioned. With this overview he succeeds in creating excellent passes that initiate dangerous moves. Moments that are rarely appreciated in football, but are extremely important.
Mental monster Kimmich
But it’s not just the sporting quality that makes Kimmich irreplaceable for FC Bayern at an early age. When the Bavarians lost the first leg against Real Madrid, the defender’s face was shattered. No one was as frustrated by this unnecessary defeat as he was.
Shortly afterwards, ZDF asked him whether he shared the view that Bayern had to put more effort into exploiting great opportunities than Real. Kimmich replied slightly surprised that the reporter had seen the two teams in front of the goal so often. ” This is a question you can answer yourself”, the international added when asked about his favourites for the return leg.
Kimmich was pissed. He let that out without regard for reactions. But he was neither disrespectful nor outrageous. For his age he is incomprehensibly determined and objective, but by no means fluffy or tame. He embodies an incredible ambition.
Even after losing training matches Kimmich says he gets really pissed off. Determination, ambition, constant tension – Kimmich transfers these qualities to the pitch. He marches ahead, takes responsibility, is self-reflective and willing to learn.
In Germany, people often talk about types completely across the board and without contexts. If one had to define what this debate about types should actually mean, one would come to the prototype Joshua Kimmich. Intelligent, technically highly talented, professional, responsible, diligent, self-confident, not a big mouth… he brings everything to be the captain of the future. With the Bavarians and in the national team.
He is not quite there yet. Certain nuances and experiences are still missing. He’ll have to gain those in the future.
Kimmich is not Philipp Lahm. He’s not Bastian Schweinsteiger either. Certainly there are traits and characteristics that produce comparisons with the two legends of Bayern. However, the fact that these are used at all shows what Kimmich has already achieved.
Over the coming months he will make one or two small mistakes. Maybe even a bigger one, although that’s atypical of him. The critics will react by comparing his potential with the Lahmsteiger template and find that he still lacks too much to reach such heights.
Kimmich, in turn, will clench up his face after these mistakes, march pissed off into the dressing room, and do better the next time. Because he assesses situations correctly.
In Munich, he is not only the leader and star of the future. Joshua Kimmich is already a top performer and leader. There is little doubt that this status will be further consolidated in the coming years. “I love the man who desires the impossible,” it says in Goethe’s second part of Faust. A sentence that fits well with Joshua Kimmich and his standing with the fans.
He had to work very hard for the Miasanrot-Award for the player of the season against players like James or Ulreich, but he has earned it. It would not be a bold thesis to suggest that this will not be his last award.
And when the Kimmich hype train arrives at the finish line of their career, comparisons with Lahm and Schweinsteiger will hopefully only be mentioned when it comes to the classification of their own footsteps, which Joshua Kimmich has left with FC Bayern.
You can seldom go out on a limb with young players, but Kimmich is unique – at all levels. The editorial team congratulates Joshua Kimmich and wishes him a successful World Cup in Russia, at which his hype train will reach the next milestones of his career. And who knows? Perhaps after the tournament the conscious memories of the legend Lahm will move into the subconscious there as well. Toooot, tooot!